Langstane Housing Aberdeen

Welfare Reform

Bedroom Tax / Spare Room Subsidy / Social Size Criteria

The Government’s Welfare Reform Act 2012 introduced a new Universal Credit which will replace most existing benefits and limits the total amount of benefit a person can claim. It also introduced a new size criteria or ‘bedroom tax’ which limits the Housing Benefit that is paid on any property.

When?

This came into force on the 1st April 2013 across the country with no exceptions.

Who will this affect?

Tenants who are eligible for Housing Benefit and:

are below state retirement age and:

have more than one bedroom and the bedroom is not occupied by:

  • An adult couple living in a relationship
  • Any other adult over the age of 16
  • Two children of the same gender aged under 16
  • Two children under the age of 10 regardless of gender
  • Any other child under the age of 16
  • A non resident carer who occasionally stays the night

If you have one room more than you are considered to need your Housing Benefit will be reduced by 14% of the rent charged (not the amount of Housing Benefit you are currently entitled to).

If you have two or more rooms more than you are considered to need your Housing Benefit will be reduced by 25% of the rent charged.

How many bedrooms do I need?

Under these new regulations, one bedroom is required for:

  • An adult couple living in a relationship
  • Any other adult over the age of 16
  • Two children of the same gender aged under 16
  • Two children under the age of 10 regardless of gender
  • Any other child under the age of 16
  • A non resident carer who occasionally stays the night

There is no consideration for:

  • Spare bedrooms used for occasional visits
  • Rooms for non permanent foster children
  • Size of the bedroom. All bedrooms are considered to be suitable for up to 2 people regardless of size.

What happens if my Housing Benefit is reduced?

You will have to pay the amount of the shortfall.  There will be no subsidy for this and so it will need to be paid out of your other income (wages or benefits).

If it is not paid then the debt will be rent arrears. Having rent arrears may impact on your tenancy, credit rating and your ability to move to an alternative property.

What should I do?

Get in touch with us or your local authority Housing Benefit Office for more information. There may be options available to you.  If you think you are going to be affected then make sure you have all the facts.

Contact us on 01224 423000 for further information or contact your local authority from the list below:

  • Aberdeen City – 03000 200 292
  • Aberdeenshire – 03456 081 200
  • Moray Council – 01343 563 456

If you are affected by the bedroom tax and you are not able to afford the shortfall there are options available to you.
You can:

  • Apply for a Discretionary Housing Benefit Payment

Discretionary Housing Benefit (DHP) is a fund that all Local Authorities have to help cover housing costs.  There are set criteria for this and all applications are based on the need of the applicant.  You should contact your local Housing Benefit office for more information on this.

  • Move to a Smaller Property

You can ask for a transfer to a smaller Langstane property by completing a Langstane transfer application form from the downloads menu and an  Apply4Homes application form. You need an Apply4Homes application to make sure you are on our new waiting list when it goes live later this year. You can apply for a mutual exchange with a tenant of a local authority or registered social landlord at   www.houseexchange.org.uk, and downoad the House Exchange App on your phone. You can read the guide in the downloads menu.  If you need help with either of these options, please contact us on 01224 423000.  We cannot guarantee you will be re-housed quickly but you should make sure you apply to us.

If you fall into rent arrears because you have a housing benefit shortfall due to the ‘bedroom tax’, we will pursue the arrears through our arrears process.  Your home may be at risk if you do not pay the arrears.

If you want to discuss this with us, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01224 423000. Our team members are more than happy to discuss your options.

Universal Credit

Universal Credit brings together income-related benefits into one single payment and only applies to working age people. It does not apply to pensioners.

Over time, as UC is introduced everywhere, the following benefits will be abolished:

  • Income Support

  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance

  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Housing Benefit

  • Child Tax Credit

  • Working Tax Credit

Under Universal Credit any help you get paying your rent (what is currently known as Housing Benefit) will not be paid to us. This part of Universal Credit is known as Housing Costs. When Universal Credit is awarded you will have to pay FULL RENT. 

If you have a partner you will make a joint claim for universal credit. If one of you is over state pension credit age or in full-time education both of you will still have to claim Universal Credit unless either of you was already receiving state pension credit when Universal Credit is introduced.

The intention is that most claims will be made either online or by telephone (there may be alternative ways of claiming in exceptional circumstances).

Universal Credit will be paid monthly in arrears as a lump sum to cover both your daily living and housing costs.  You can choose who receives the benefit if you have a partner.

To prepare for Universal Credit you should:

  •  Make sure you have a bank account

  • Make sure you can access the internet

  • Draw up a simple list of income and outgoings to help with your budgeting

Universal Credit is rolling out across the country very slowly and only to certain groups of claimants.

If you want to know more about Universal Credit contact us on 01224 423000 or e-mail wecanhelp@langstane-ha.co.uk